Crystal Bailey is 41 years old and living in Belleville, Ontario with her two children. She works full-time in public accounting and hopes to complete an undergrad which will then allow her to complete the Chartered Accountant program. This is Crystal’s story.
Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself? Who are you? Where do you live, where do you come from?
I live in Belleville, Ontario with my two children who are thirteen and ten years old. I am originally from the States but have been living in Canada since 1999. I work full-time for a public accounting firm and balance being a single mom, student, employee, and friend somehow.
Where did you live in the States? Why did you make the move to Canada? Do you like it?
I am originally from Florida which is where I met my husband (now ex-husband). He is Canadian so I followed him to the great North! I am so incredibly happy living in Canada and raising my children here. I find the people and the culture so much more accepting and pleasant in nature. I miss my family in the States, but a visit to Florida solves that.
Describe the path that led you to AU. What was it that made you realize you wanted to go back to school, and what pushed you into the program you have signed up for?
I completed my Accounting Diploma in 2018 through Durham College and accepted a position within an accounting firm. I realized that I would like to keep going to obtain my undergrad to allow myself the opportunity possibly continue to complete my Chartered Accountant designation.
What do you do like to do when you are not studying?
When I am not studying, I am usually doing something with my kids. We go to the ski hill, walks at the conservation areas, skating on the bay, beach days; really anything outside. I enjoy quiet time on the couch cuddled with a blanket and Netflix just as much too!
What are your plans for this education once you finish? How does it fit in with where you want to go?
Once I complete my undergrad it will allow me to apply for the Chartered Accountant program. This is a path that will provide me the most opportunity for a better career.
Who in your life had the greatest influence on your desire to learn?
My kids had the greatest influence on me. I never want them to think it’s too late to do something important to them. I am 41 years old and changing careers to make a better life and be happier. Anything is possible!
Any advice for people who think they’re too old to go (back) to school?
You are never too old to do anything in life you want to do. It’s amazing what we can accomplish in our lives when we dig deep and find our passions. The satisfaction of accomplishment is so overwhelming at any age, but at 41 my smile is filled with a greater understanding and appreciation for what I have done and how far I have come. The only limitation on our future is the one we place on ourselves.
Describe your experience with online learning at AU so far. What do you like? Dislike?
Online learning has been the most adaptive to my busy, hectic and surprising life. I can fit it in wherever, whenever. I do find that I occasionally feel disconnected from others and miss out on the collective student experience. The AU app helps with that; however, sometimes it would be nice to be able to look at a fellow student and ask if they understood something I missed.
At what point did you waver the most about continuing your schooling? What caused it and what got you through it?
There is usually a point in the course load where I feel overwhelmed and that I am not prepared for the exams. This is usually when I question what the heck I am doing! I always push through the stress and fear to come through the other side and this is what I remind myself of.
What is your most memorable AU course so far, and why?
Corporate Communication (CMNS380) was the most memorable because it pushed me very far outside my comfort level. I am a numbers person and found it hard to write essays. The tutor helped me with all my questions, and I had lots of them! I passed the course successfully!!
Could you briefly provide an overview of CMNS 380? Was it difficult? How where the assignments and tests? Would you recommend the course to students?
CMNS 380 (Corporate Communication) was a challenging course for me as an accounting major. However, the assigned tutor was an amazing life source for me. She was so helpful in my ability to succeed in the course. Once I reached out to her, she was able to assist me in the areas that were not my strengths. Overall, the course was challenging, but definitely doable! I would recommend the course to students; however, I would include the disclaimer to those with math-based brains to be prepared to challenge your brain and get ready for writing!
What have you given up to go to AU that you regret the most? Was it worth it?
I have given up free time to just relax. That is the hardest part of balancing work and school. It will be worth it when I receive my undergraduate’s degree!
How do you find communications with your course tutors?
My first few courses I did not understand that level of communication that was available with them. Once I knew that I could ask them anything, it made my courses so much easier. I do wish that the reply time could sometimes be quicker; however, I know that I am not the only one asking for help!
What is your pet peeve if you have one?
A pet peeve I suppose would be not having a collective school body that starts the course the same time and works through the same time for personal referencing and help. However, this is the online format and I am adapting.
What famous person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why?
There really isn’t a famous person that I would be overly eager to have lunch with. I think famous to me would be my dad. He passed away in 2003 and I would love to have lunch with him and ask him the million questions that I never got to ask him and listen to all his stories one more time!
Describe the proudest moment in your life.
Proudest moment of my life was walking across the stage last year with my children watching as I received my Diploma.
What’s one thing that most wouldn’t suspect of you?
I tend to come across as confident; however, I am the least confident person you will meet. I always believe that I am doing something incorrectly or different from how others would do it.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in life?
Never give up. It is never too late, and you can achieve anything you want in life with hard work and determination.
Have you traveled? Where has life taken you so far?
I am originally from the States and travel back to Florida and Michigan regularly to see family. My biggest life trip was to Greece in 2007 with a friend. It was a trip of a lifetime that led me through Athens and several of the islands.
What (non-AU) book are you reading now?
My non-AU book reading usually consists of children’s books as I read with my daughter! Peter Pan is on the go at the moment.
Are you binge watching any TV shows? If so, what do you like most about it? Who would you recommend it to?
I absolutely love Travellers and Lucifer. When I have free time these are the two shows that I watch. They are intriguing and keep you engaged. You can miss a week or two and easily catch back up to where you were. Anyone who enjoys mystery, suspense with a bit of humour would enjoy these.